Senate Judiciary sets dates for confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland as Attorney General

The former judge's confirmation process has been delayed due to the Senate power sharing agreement and the impeachment trial
Merrick Garland

The Senate Judiciary Committee has announced it will hold confirmation hearings Feb. 22 and 23 for Merrick Garland to become the country's next attorney general.

The committee is expected to vote by March1 on whether to recommend Garland for a final floor vote.

Garland is a former chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

He was President Obama's selection to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court in March 2016. However, the GOP-controlled Senate effectively blocked his nomination.

The hearing scheduled was set after committee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee's top Republican, reached an agreement earlier this week.

"I’m pleased that we can announce that the Committee will be moving forward on a bipartisan basis. Judge Garland will serve the Justice Department and our country with honor and integrity. He is a consensus pick who should be confirmed swiftly on his merits," Durbin said in a statement.

A hearing date for Garland, President Biden's choice to run the Justice Department and become the country's top law enforcement officer, had been up in the air due to weeks as Senate leadership negotiated a resolution on how running the chamber 50 Democratic and 50 Republican senators.

Republicans technically held committee leadership posts prior to the agreement.

Durbin had initially requested that GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham hold the hearing on February 8.

Graham, of South Carolina, opted not to do so, arguing that it would violate the committee's practice of holding confirmation hearings 28 days after receiving the necessary paperwork.

Graham also believed there would be limited time to consider Garland prior to the start to of the second Senate impeachment trial of former President Trump, which started Tuesday.

On Tuesday evening, Grassley said that he had opted to waive the 28-day rule due to the "significance" of Garland's potential role. "

Given these accommodations, I expect a thorough review of Judge Garland’s qualifications as well as swift and transparent responses going forward," he said in a statement.

Garland is slated to appear before the committee on Feb. 22. The next day will be devoted to testimony from outside witnesses.

On Feb. 24, senators will submit questions to Garland for the record. He will have four days to answer.